Power Rankings week 14: OKC Thunder getting Giddey with it

OKC Thunder guard Josh Giddey (3) walks down the court : Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
OKC Thunder guard Josh Giddey (3) walks down the court : Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports /

In week 14 the OKC Thunder delivered another impressive performance posting a second consecutive week of three wins and a single loss. It was arguably even more impressive than the prior 3-1 (week 13) performance that included trouncing the Celtics.

That’s because their only loss was by a single point versus the Heat who were gifted 40 free throws and needed to be perfect to net the win. OKC followed up that match with a back-to-back road set defeating the 76ers and Bulls then finished the week by beating the Nets at Barclays.

OKC began week 14 with an 18-22 record and finished with a 21-23 mark after winning three of their four matches.

Statistically, the Thunder held fast with the 11th-ranked defense, improved to 19th offensively, and also jumped in Net Rating to rank 14th (previously 18th). They also hold fast in the pace category ranking third.

Where National sites seed OKC Thunder in week 14 power rankings

OKC Thunder power ranking – NBA.com:

It’s been coming for a while and while Thunder Nation has been patient let’s just say it’s about time this roster’s success is being recognized.

After jumping the OKC Thunder two spots last week, John Schuhmann gives the youngsters a big boost leapfrogging them SEVEN spots up to 16th this week.

A portion of his OKC Thunder excerpt is below, to see the full OKC segment along with Schuhmann’s full week 14 rankings click here.

"If Williams had made those two free throws, the Thunder would have a six-game winning streak and they’d be 22-22, in eighth place in the West. Instead, they’re in 12th, but they’re just still a game and a half out of sixth and they have an easier remaining schedule than most of the teams in front of them.Monday and Tuesday are the first of six two-day breaks that the Thunder have over the next four weeks, a stretch that includes only one back-to-back. They’ll play the Pacers and Kings for the first time this season on Wednesday and Friday, a fun pair of games against two other teams that have made a leap. The three most improved teams from last season in regard to winning percentage are Indiana (+.218), Sacramento (+.206) and Oklahoma City (+.185)."

ESPN Panel:

Every year ESPN comprises a panel of writers who offer up the excerpts on the teams and vote on where the teams rank weekly. The panel this season is comprised of Kendra Andrews, Tim Bontemps, Jamal Collier, Nick Friedell, Andrew Lopez, and Kevin Pelton.

They say not to look a gift horse in the mouth (what exactly does that really mean?), so the fact the panel raised the OKC Thunder from ranking 25th to 18th this week should be a reason to celebrate – – I guess.

But seriously, how does the panel keep ranking teams who continue to perform at a worse level for consecutive weeks in front of OKC?

Specifically, some of the teams ranked ahead were the Mavericks, Pelicans, and Clippers who all went 1-2, while the Pacers were 0-4. That the Hawks landed two spots ahead of OKC but had an identical record facing easier opponents was also curious.

"Oklahoma City has won five of its last six games, and Josh Giddey has played some of his best basketball to date during that stretch. The 20-year-old is averaging 20.2 points, 8.2 rebounds and 7.8 assists in the last six games and capped that off with a 28-point performance in Sunday’s win against the Nets. The 28 points ties Giddey’s career high which he set last February against the Knicks. — Lopez"

For the full ESPN preseason listing, click here.

Bleacher Report

In the week 14 offering from Andy Bailey of Bleacher Report is more closely aligned with NBA.com ranking the OKC Thunder 14th. Like Schuhmann, the nudge was more of a leap as Bailey moved them up EIGHT spots from the previous rank of 22nd.

As a reminder, Bailey’s power rankings are run on a different schedule so they include games played up to Thursday of this week whereas the ESPN panel and NBA.com base their rankings on games played Monday to Sunday.

A portion of Bailey’s Thunder excerpt follows with a focus on some of the players other than Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s contributions. His entire article can be viewed in it’s entirety along with the rest of his rankings by clicking here.

"During this 7-2 stretch that started with an eye-opening 150-117 win over the Boston Celtics on January 3, second-year playmaker Josh Giddey is putting up 19.8 points, 7.4 assists and 7.2 rebounds. Luguentz Dort is at 15.8 points with a 45.1 three-point percentage during the same stretch, and Jalen Williams is suddenly breaking out with 12.6 points and 4.0 assists.This team is young, athletic and clearly competitive. And even if it sits out the trade deadline, it appears to have enough talent to at least stay in range of the play-in tournament."

CBS Sports

It’s not the typical power ranking from Colin Ward Henninger this week so there isn’t a comparison to the 14th rank he offered in week 13.  Instead, Henninger provides a first half grade for each team.

CWH’s full mid-season ranking can be viewed here.

"Oklahoma City Thunder: AEveryone assumes OKC is going to eventually fall out of the postseason hunt, but is that true? This is a team that nobody wants to play for three core reasons: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is unstoppable, they really defend, and the depth allows everyone to operate at full tilt at all times. Indeed, if you love effort, watch the Thunder.They are relentless on both ends. As someone who has been against anyone (and certainly perimeter players) who can’t shoot, Josh Giddey grows on me every time I watch him play. You just feel good when the ball is in his hands. I love Jalen Williams and Lu Dort. This is a team that, to me, might have accidentally become too good to tank, but unlike a lot of teams that should be tanking only to get sidetracked by surprising success, OKC is already stocked with all the capital it needs.If they can compete now, which they clearly can, go ahead and compete now rather than run the risk of SGA losing his patience. Awesome season so far for the Thunder."

Weekly Power Rankings:

For those that want to see how the OKC Thunder have progressed this season or to look back at a specific week, the following offers the links breaking down where the OKC Thunder ranked each week…

Up next…

After consecutive four-game weeks, the OKC Thunder get a break with just three matches this coming week facing the Pacers, Kings, and Nuggets.

A tough group of opponents but they should offer up some intrigue and exciting entertainment. Let’s see if the OKC Thunder can continue winning and whether their performance finds them edging into the top 10 collectively!

Next. Thunder and parity pack schedule leading into trade deadline. dark